Its the anniversary of the diagnosis, should we commemorate it?

This month we will hit 7 years post diagnosis. Its been a long time, and feels like more than that. We have changed as a family in so many ways that we are not the same people. I have detailed elsewhere some of the history of my wifes illness, and you can either look through the previous posts, or there is a summary here:

But the question is, do we commemorate or celebrate? Do we even acknowledge the passing? When she was diagnosed, my wife was very gung ho about it, determined to fight and win. Her first round of chemo was on July 1st, and she bought US flag patterned leggings to wear for her independence day. It didnt work out quite like that however, and they were never seen again. The challenge became harder with every round, and with every hospitalisation and visit with doctors and specialists (we have seen over a dozen different specialists over the years that I can recall, along with countless talented and amazing nurses). So the fighting spirit whilst there, is maybe a little more subdued, less in your face.

We dont usually mention the anniversary. And why would we want to? We wouldnt want to be reminded of what we have lost, what has happened since, but it is an important day in our combined history. We remember happy events like our wedding, birthdays, and so on, and even remember the birthdays of relatives who have died, but this one feels different. This one has a dark cloud hanging over it. An anniversary of the start of the worst time of our collective lives.

Aside from the losses to cancer, a family changes immeasurably due to cancer. It isnt just the patient who suffers, though they suffer the most obviously. Partners, children, parents, friends, colleagues, are all impacted to some extent, whether they realise or not. Children have to watch the horror of their parent becoming sick and losing weight, maybe being physically ill, not being able to do the same fun activities with them. Parents have to watch their own child wither away and potentially die. Friends and colleagues will lose someone in their lives who may have meant alot to them. All caused by cancer. All contributing to the dark cloud overhanging the anniversary.

Fans of Stranger Things would appreciate this analogy, as it can sometimes feel that our lives now have moved into the Upside Down. A world that looks the same, but isnt. It has the same buildings, and roads, but there is a creeping terror on every corner, a spreading horror waiting to catch you, and drain your life away. (If you havent seen Stranger Things, do, it is great, if a little scary for kids).

Definately not one for us to celebrate, though I know some do. Not even a date to commemorate for us, though again I know some do. We will let it pass, not acknowledge the demons entrance, and regroup for the next round of challenges to come. For after a while the cancer becomes so all invasive and impacting your whole life that any opportunity to not mention it and push it away feels like a victory. To remember the anniversary is to give it more life, make it more real, and we dont want that.


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